R. B. Smith & Newton Gurganus: World War II

Trapped in a Foxhole

Newton Gurganus, Jr. and R. B. Smith were World War II Veterans, who, though they have different stories, found an intersection in their paths on the front lines against opposing forces. While attacking the German line, the Allied troops were ambushed and had to flee to the woods. Few made this escape, but among them were Newton and R. B. The two dug a foxhole and hid in it together with the Germans surrounding them. Both of these men share their incredible stories with us in this video.

Newton Gurganus, Jr., was raised in Walker County, Alabama. While still in high school, he was drafted into the military. He joined the Army at age 18. Newton was deployed to Scotland in January of 1944, just as preparations were being made to invade Normandy, and he participated in the invasion along with the 1st and 3rd Armies. After the invasion, his division was selected to march through Paris for a victory parade.

R. B. Smith grew up as part of a family of sharecroppers, who grew cotton and corn. He was drafted into the military at age 20. He took his basic training in Texas, and was then sent to Tallahassee, Florida to train with the 28th Division. He was eventually sent overseas to Wales in 1943. After four months, he was sent to England. He landed in Normandy in July of 1944. He also participated alongside Newton in the victory parade in Paris.

The division continued north towards the German opposition at the Siegfried Line. Newton and R. B. were caught in the intense fighting of the Battle of Hürtgen Forest, and their division suffered many casualties. Newton and R. B. were among the few that were able to retreat into the woods. They dug in, and R.B. and Newton hid in the same foxhole. A shell exploded nearby, injuring both of them. After a couple of days, they were captured by German forces. Newton was taken care of by a captured American doctor during this time, while R. B. was sent to do hard labor at a prison camp. The Allies, meanwhile, advanced and pushed back the German lines, until finally they liberated both R. B. Smith and Newton Gurganus, Jr.